The Altimeter report this article is based on, as well as the various articles that have tried to dissect the data come to varying different conclusions.
The headline seems to be that most people want to measure an ROI of social media, but few can prove it's value. Which is probably the state in many companies.
One difficulty is that social is pretty much in all enterprises is in a silo. It might sit as a subset of marketing, or in it's own department but does not reflect social's place in society which is omnipresent.
Social should in fact be front and central to any organisation. After all, I trust your companies employees, but I don't trust your brand.
At a recent event we organised where we had 25 CMOs around a table. We got them to rank their social between 1 and 10, where 1 was bad and 10 was good. The CMO of an organisation rated her company as a 7, where as the Sales VP rated the company at zero.
How can you measure until you have uniformity and consistency? How can you measure until you have sales (the revenue engine of the company) fully social? How can you measure when the board think social is about cat photos?
More than twice the number of companies measure the impact of social media at the awareness stage (71 percent) than at the acquisition stage (35 percent). Tracking customer acquisition remains challenging, but 84 percent say it presents an opportunity to use digital platforms for increased sales and commerce. Proving that activity is another matter. Another issue is that measurement decisions tend to be driven by whatever data is common and available, rather than by business strategy. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they use standard metrics that are included in the technologies they use—but what if “standard” metrics don’t pertain to primary business goals?